Political Notes: Cox files for 6th, MACo preps winter conference, Van Hollen touts transpo funds, new Senate endorsements

Then-Republican gubernatorial candidate Dan Cox spoke with the press outside the Maryland Courts of Appeal Building in Annapolis in October 2022. File photo by Bruce DePuyt.

Former state delegate and the Republican party’s 2022 nominee for governor, Dan Cox, announced Monday that he’s running in the open-seat 6th Congressional District primary.

Cox announced his intent to run in a video posted to Facebook. He was planning to hold a Facebook Live discussion later in the evening.

In a three-minute video, Cox said the country was “facing challenges like few other times in American history.”

“As President Reagan declared, ‘This as a time for choosing,’ and as President Trump has courageously led, it is past time that we must choose to put America first,” Cox said. “We must choose to put our families and freedom first. We must not be intimidated by the voices that challenge our freedom birthright but instead we will lift a banner which all may be drawn: the banner of freedom.”

Cox said he is concerned about high inflation and national debt, “hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world … illegally crossing our southern border,” and the “weaponized” criminal justice system, an apparent reference to former President Donald Trump’s legal troubles.

Cox is the eighth Republican to launch a campaign for the seat, which is open after current Rep. David Trone (D) decided to run for the open U.S. Senate seat in Maryland in 2024.

Cox has a mixed success rate in the district. He and his gubernatorial running mate, Gordana Schifanelli, won the 2022 Republican primary in the district with 55.6% of the vote — more than 16 points over former Secretary of Commerce Kelly Schulz. But Cox and Schifanelli lost the district in the general election, garnering 44% of the vote, compared to 52% support for Gov. Wes Moore (D).

The 6th District is the most competitive in Maryland and one of the most competitive in the country this election cycle.

Cox’s gubernatorial campaign was characterized by his support for former President Trump. In 2020, Cox helped organize charter buses to bring supporters to the “Million MAGA March” that led to a violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and tweeted that former Vice President Mike Pence was a “traitor” during the attack.

Former Gov. Larry Hogan (R) characterized Cox as a “QAnon whackjob.”

In July, someone filed paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission for Cox to run in the 6th District, but Cox said it wasn’t him and that he would report the filing as a fraud. Weeks later, The Daily Beast reported the filing was in fact made by Rory McShane, who had been hired by Cox.

New FEC paperwork had not been filed Monday afternoon.

Republican candidates seeking the seat are Woodsboro Burgess Heath Barnes, retired police officer Chris Hyser, former Del. Neil Parrott (R-Washington), grocery store clerk Todd Puglisi, Air Force veteran Mariela Roca, Navy veteran Tom Royals, and former state Del. Brenda J. Thiam.

Democrats in the race are Gaithersburg physician Geoffrey Grammer, 2022 gubernatorial candidate Ashwani Jain, Del. Lesley Lopez (D-Montgomery), Hagerstown Mayor Tekesha Martinez, attorney April McClain Delaney, former State Department official Joel Rubin, Montgomery County Councilmember Laurie-Anne Sayles, Del. Joe Vogel (D-Montgomery), former federal program manager Destiny Drake West, and frequent candidate George Gluck.

The 2024 primary election is scheduled for May 14.

‘Eye of the Storm’

 The Maryland Association of Counties will host its annual winter conference Dec. 6-8 in Cambridge.

The conference labeled “Eye of the Storm” puts a focus on fiscal, education, housing and other policies a month before the General Assembly session is set to begin Jan. 10.

An online brochure states 900 legislators and government leaders will be in attendance to discuss the state’s future Maryland.

“Now that county and state officials have navigated through their first year of a new term of office with a new Administration, it’s time to batten down the hatches and prepare for potentially choppy waters ahead,” according to a conference summary. “With budgets stretched to the max, and looming – but uncertain – county-funded commitments on the horizon, local governments are in a precarious position.”

A snapshot of some scheduled agenda items includes:

  • A two-part session on juvenile justice called “The Local Rule” and “The Kids Aren’t All Right – Local Diversion Programs and Strategies.”
  • An economist’s review of the state’s economy at a discussion labeled, “In This Economy? Forecasting and Funding Maryland’s Future.”
  • A session to discuss the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future education reform plan.

Van Hollen touts federal investments

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D) traveled to different parts of Maryland on Monday to tout federal dollars that will aid transportation and housing projects.

U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, right, announces $25 million in federal funding for Prince George’s County to purchase 20 electric buses and make other improvements to the county’s transportation system on Oct. 30, 2023. Photo by William J. Ford.

Van Hollen’s first stop was in Prince George’s County, where he announced $25 million for the county to purchase 20 electric buses, upgrade the electrical system at the county’s transit depot and add electric charging stations. The money comes from the Biden administration’s bipartisan infrastructure bill.

Besides providing transportation for families and creating new jobs, Van Hollen said the zero-emission buses will help create a cleaner environment.

“We’re transitioning from gas powered and fossil fuel powered buses to electric buses,” he said in a brief interview. “For every new electric bus you put on the road, you’re reducing carbon pollution.”

Van Hollen’s visit also coincided with the county’s launch of its Transit Transportation initiative, which includes an increase of the county’s “TheBus” service in high-need areas, new bus routes and enhanced weekend service.

A major part of the plan is to transition nearly 70% of the fleet to zero emissions by 2035 and increase that to 100% by 2040.

The county’s Department of Public Works and Transportation plans to implement service changes in December.

“When we invest in mass transportation, we create less expensive options for navigating our community,” said County Executive Angela Alsobrooks (D).

Federal dollars also went to other Maryland counties, including the two neighboring jurisdictions of Montgomery and Anne Arundel.

Nearly $15 million went to Montgomery County to purchase 13 zero-emission buses as part of its commitment to zero emissions by 2035.

Anne Arundel County received $1.8 million to purchase four diesel-electric hybrid buses that will be part of the county’s five-year plan to transition to a zero-emission fleet.

As for Van Hollen’s tour throughout Maryland, he also traveled to Baltimore to attend the grand opening of Woodland Gardens II, a four-story, 75-unit apartment building for those at least 62 years old. At least $300,000 in federal funding was used toward the housing project.

New endorsements in race for Senate

U.S. Rep. David Trone (D-6th) garnered two union endorsements last week in his run to seek the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate.

Representatives with International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local Unions 24 and 307 said in a statement Trone will represent “hard working men and women” that include electricians, technicians and sign workers.

IBEW Local 24 represents members in the Baltimore area and on the Eastern Shore. IBEW 307 is headquartered in western Maryland.

“Maryland workers don’t just need someone who fights for us in the Senate, we need someone who can get the job done,” said IBEW Local 24 Business Manager Michael McHale. “Every single time we’ve reached out to David Trone about an issue we care about, or a bill we supported, he’s put it all on the line for us. David Trone understands how hard our members work to feed their families.”

The Trone campaign said the unions’ support added to the more than 100 other endorsements from federal, state and local officials.

“Having the support of some of the most professional, hardest-working electrical workers on the planet is a tremendous honor for me and our campaign,” Trone said. “These folks literally keep the lights on for our nation. In Congress, I’ve always stood up for them. And in the Senate, they know I’ll have their back.”

On Sunday, Trone’s primary Democratic challenger Prince George’s County Executive Angela Alsobrooks announced an endorsement from Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich (D).

“I’ve had the opportunity to work closely with Angela these last several years as we led the state’s two largest jurisdictions through an unprecedented global pandemic, and what I can tell you is that her care and concern has always extended beyond the borders of her county,” Elrich said in a statement. “She has a passion for our residents and she brings strength and skill to the job. She understands the importance of worker rights and the need for a decent wage and its importance to a healthy economy. We need her advocacy and leadership in the U.S. Senate.”

Last week, Alsobrooks joined a rally in Baltimore to receive the endorsement of Gov. Wes Moore (D) and Montgomery County Councilmember Will Jawando (D), who announced recently that he would no longer compete in the May primary.

The governor joins half of the state’s federal delegation, top state leaders and county and municipal officials to support Alsobrooks to succeed longtime Sen. Ben Cardin (D), who announced this year that he would not seek reelection next year.

Another Democrat, Anne Arundel County businessman Juan Dominguez, said in a campaign email last week that Jawando’s dropping out the Senate race creates “new opportunities for our campaign.” He plans to join Trone and Alsobrooks on Nov. 3 at the Eastern Shore Democratic Summit that will feature a reception, candidate’s forum and a primary straw poll.

“While our two opponents may have insider endorsements and ties to the political establishment, we have the qualifications, energy and ideas to win,” Dominguez said. “Most importantly, I am the right candidate to lead Maryland on the path forward.”

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